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Raspberry Pi: what it is and what it is for

Whether you want to learn programming or are already an expert in the field, the Raspberry Pi will provide you with what you need. We tell you everything you need to know about this monobloc computer the size of a credit card.

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Do you want to create your own technological project from scratch at an economic cost? If the answer is yes, you are interested in knowing what Raspberry Pi is : a computer the size of a credit card without a hard drive, case, monitor, keyboard or mouse .

It’s just a board , but its simplicity, flexibility, multitude of compatible accessories, and low cost have made it a prized object of desire for millions of users around the world.

What is the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a series of low-cost single board computers developed by the UK Raspberry Pi Foundation with the aim of democratizing technology.

It is basically a monoblock computer, with a single printed circuit board made up of a low-power, high-performance ARM architecture SoC, RAM memory, several video outputs, a 4-pole jack connector (in some models), ethernet port, card reader, several USB ports and a large number of GPIO connectors. Come on, a complete device in itself that has nothing to envy to a PC to use.

With the development of this simple board, the Raspberry Pi Foundation aimed to promote the teaching of computer science in UK colleges and universities, but it ended up being more popular than expected: just six months after its creation, more than 500,000 units.

Since then it has gone through several versions of improvement and has increased its presence, but its low cost is still one of its main characteristics.

What is it for?

It was originally supposed to be a teaching tool that would allow people of different ages to explore computer science and learn to program in languages ​​like Scratch and Python . But the thing has evolved and is used to make multiple technological and digital projects.

The most common is as a home computer : the Raspberry Pi 4, for example, allows you to do everything you would expect from a personal computer, surf the Internet or do the most common tasks such as writing documents, spreadsheets… but in a very small size. and at a much lower cost than any other PC.

But the possibilities go much further. You can, for example, customize the Minecraft code to handle the objects in the game at will using Minecraft: Pi Edition, the own version of the popular sandbox; create a system for videoconferencing ; make a voice assistant ; create a station to measure the humidity of the air and the concentration of particles; develop a console emulator and enjoy retro games for very little money; create a smart mirror; automate your home and control heating, lighting or blinds; do a 3d scan using this board and one of the specific cameras for this type of computer… As you can see, the options are endless.

What types exist?

There are several models, each suitable for a different use. The most prominent are:

Raspberry Pi 4

It is the most modern model, and also the most powerful and versatile. It has a Gigabit Ethernet connector and an integrated WiFi + Bluetooth card; USB-C type power connector and two MIPI connectors; GPIO connection to which a wide variety of additional devices, sensors, etc. can be connected. As for RAM, you can choose between 2, 4 and 8 GB.

Raspberry Pi 3

The third generation has a 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core processor, wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2 / BLE connectivity.

It is found in three variants: A+, B+ and B, depending on the RAM memory and the speed at which the processor works (the difference is only 200 Mhz). Additionally, the A+ and B+ models have dual-band wireless LAN; and the B+ model comes with faster Ethernet and Power over Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT).

Raspberry Pi Zero

It is, along with the Pi Pico, one of the smallest and lightest models, which makes it ideal for certain very specific jobs. It has a variant, the Pi Zero W, which includes wireless LAN and Bluetooth connectivity, ideal for developing portable consoles.

Raspberry Pi Pico

It is also a small, fast and versatile board built with RP2040. It is used to develop very specific devices, from controlling household appliances to operating a light screen.

Raspberry Pi 400

This is the best option for beginners, since it is a Raspberry Pi already assembled to integrate it into a keyboard. Of course, he does not have much room to do other types of projects.

It has a 64-bit quad-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, wireless networking, 4K video playback, and a 40-pin GPIO connection.

How much does the Raspberry Pi cost?

On its website you can see all the current models (the oldest ones are no longer officially for sale), both for domestic plates and for industrial use.

If we stick to domestic use, prices range from 4.24 euros for the Raspberry Pi Pico, to 49.91 euros for the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (or 84.65 euros for the 8 GB).